Prophecy Sun recorded this most recent collection of material almost entirely in her living room using an iPhone, with the exception of one track which was recorded while riding her bicycle. Each song was captured live in one take. The compositions focus on the voice as a symbol of the unconscious, capturing the immediacy of emotive textures and sounds that live inside her head. Her rhythms are of day dreams, future visions, and lost love serenades.
June 8, 2012
reviews from Ramshackle Day Parade, 6 Days from Tomorrow, and The Georgia Straight
The human voice is a beautiful instrument, it is clear that Prophecy Sun knows this. On Bird Curious, the human voice is taken to new levels; loops and melodies are used to create dreamy pop textures and rhythms. Words are used more in sound and shape rather than the specific meaning, allowing the listener to float along, opening up their own stream of conscious. The album is tagged as being improvised which just goes to show how connected Prophecy Sun is with her voice, there is definitely a sense of peace and oneness on this record, something that can only be achieved genuinely.
There are two things in life that I can honestly say that, despite my best efforts and a genuine desire to be otherwise, I am genuinely crap at: Art, and Technology. This is a bit of a fib as of course isn’t anywhere near the full spectrum of things I’m genuinely crap at, but for the purposes of this post they’ll do to be going on with, as anyone who’s ever played me at Draw Something will happily attest to.
Someone who is much better than me at things artistic and tech-savvy is Vancouver’s prOphecy Sun, who can also be found fronting (presumably also Vancouver’s) Tyranahorse and who is described in her bio as an interdisciplinary performance artist. She has made this short album using just her voice and an iPhone to make something different, odd and surprisingly disarming.
For the most part, Bird Curious is a series of short vocal loops based on little thoughts and phrases. Sounds a bit odd when described like that, but I’ve other things knocking about the place where voices are treated as instrumentation (Diagrams, Bon Iver, Tara Busch to name but three), and quite frankly the human voice is a largely underused part of music anyway, and the ultra-DIY nature of such a project is fascinating to a person such as myself who struggled with getting the Card service on my phone to work properly after a week.
The immediacy of the recording format allows for this album to be conceived, recorded and assembled entirely as it occurs to Ms Sun to do so, making this less a collection of ‘songs’ and more a gathering of short daydreams given an interesting veneer. It helps that her voice has that Dreampop quality to it, allowing each loop and phrase to flow easily and airily by, although it can also have its disquieting moments – No Way for example reminding me of Celtic Frost’s ultra-creepy (and not a bad idea for a ringtone) Danse Macabre, and ending track Night‘s almost-inhuman intonations coming across like Akira Yamaoka’s stranger Silent Hill treatments.
It is an incredibly human experience throughout however, as these experiments do play out as a shared insight to those little thoughts that propel us through the day – literally in the case of First Day Of Spring, which is essentially a trip out on a bicycle for a couple of minutes away from the living room where the rest of it was performed, with the peripheral noises providing a weird focus when put up against the solitude of the rest of Bird Curious.
I guess this is one of those things that I’d struggle to like if simply described to me, but it’s short enough to keep on the side of intriguing and enchanting, and the occasional foray into complete strangeness (ie, Metal Jangle, although in fairness that’s exactly what it sounds like and possibly says more about my hatred of my neighbours’ wind chimes than anything else) is brief enough to pass as part of the overall picture. Best listened to very last thing at night on headphones in order to send you off to sleep in the strangest calming way possible like a more personable version of the Buddha Machine that I have in here somewhere amongst all this clutter.
Bird Curious is available for the wallet-friendly sum of precisely 0.00 – an amount in the reach to all of us except most Spanish Banking Institutions this evening. You may like it, you may not. I do.
Feel free to shed a tear for the studio-trained producers of the modern era. Twenty years ago, you had to book a session at Mushroom Studios to get a recording that didn’t sound like amateur hour at an after-hours booze can. These days, anyone with access to a laptop and GarageBand can make a professional product. Hell, Prophecy Sun used an iPhone as the main recording console for bird curious, and the results sound disorientingly beautiful.
Minimalism is the operative word here. The one-take songs are as blissful as they are haunting, constructed primarily out of the singer’s multitracked and digitally processed voice. “Look Up” is nothing but three repeated words—look, up, and down—stretched out over three mantralike minutes. “Night” unfolds as a 3 a.m. nightmare of white-noise tape hiss and soft, ambient droning, while “I Dream of Horses” begins as a sugar-spun lullaby and then, halfway through, morphs into a David Lynch soundtrack filtered through an iron lung.
Challenging art-pop in the vein of CocoRosie and Laurie Anderson, bird curious isn’t the kind of record that’s going to kick-start the party on a Saturday night. But if you’re looking for something to make your sun-soaked Sunday morning seem a little more serene and dreamy, get ready to be enchanted.